Red Bug Electric

1924 Red Bug Electric Roadster

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 7, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

The Smith Flyer went on sale in 1916, and it was a two-seat buckboard driven by a fifth wheel located out back. Briggs & Stratton bought the design in 1919, and it was sold as the Briggs & Stratton flyer thereafter. In 1924, they sold the rights to the Automotive Electric Service Corporation, who began to market the cars as the Red Bug (and sometimes the Auto Red Bug).

Between 1924 and 1928, two versions were offered: a gas-powered single-cylinder car and an electric one. They were more or less identical in looks and both cost $150. This 12-volt electric-powered version has only four wheels and was restored by its current owner.

Yes, these are real cars that you should be able to register for the road. The Indian motorcycle company allegedly bought the design in 1930, but no one really seems to know what happened, and they disappeared from the automotive landscape (though I couldn’t imagine driving one in the 1930s with a huge Duesenberg bearing down on you, much less an SUV today). This one should sell for between $11,000-$17,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $4,958.

1917 Milburn Electric

1917 Milburn Electric Model 27 Brougham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 11-12, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Milburn Wagon Company had been around in Toledo since 1848. In 1914 they decided to start building electric cars. Over a thousand were built in 1915 but the factory suffered heavy losses in a fire in 1919. By 1921, 75% of the employees were building bodies for GM cars while only 25% were building electric cars. General Motors bought the plant outright in 1923 and this early electric car manufacturer was gone.

This car featured a 60 mile range when it went on sale, with a top speed of 19 mph. It was one of many such cars with stodgy, upright bodies, but they sold relatively well while electric cars were hot. They were lightweight and this one has been well restored and converted to run on 12-volt batteries.

Milburn built over 4,000 cars in their short lifespan. Survivors are sought after and don’t change hands often. This one should bring between $25,000-$35,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $63,250.

Five Cars from the 1920s

1927 Whippet Model 96 Sedan

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

General Motors wasn’t the only American automaker expanding its brands in the 1920s. Willys-Overland was one of a number of other companies to get in on the game. Whippet was a marque introduced for the 1926 model year. It didn’t last long – it was gone after 1930 – but it did have an impact: boosting Willys into third place in the U.S.

The Model 96 was the smaller option in the Whippet line and was produced in every model year. It is powered by a 30 horsepower 2.2-liter straight-four. This car looks great. It was formerly part of the AACA Museum and has been used in Boardwalk Empire – which is something we’ve talked about in other posts. Interesting. Click here for more.

Update: Sold $23,100.


1929 Roosevelt Eight Sedan by Hayes

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Roosevelt is a very rare American automobile make. It was built by Marmon and introduced in 1929 – great timing. It was a smaller version of the larger Marmons and was the first American car with a straight-eight engine to be offered for sale for less than $1,000. The engine is actually a 3.3-liter straight-eight, making 77 horsepower.

The Eight (Roosevelt’s only model) was offered in four body styles with the Sedan being the cheapest and least fanciful. Named for Teddy Roosevelt, this rare survivor would be an awesome addition to a collection. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $10,450.


1924 Oldsmobile Model 30-B Turtle Deck Speedster by Schutte

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

The 1924 Oldsmobile line consisted of a single model offered in a range of factory body styles and apparently coachbuilt ones as well. The engine is a 2.8-liter straight-six making 42 horsepower.

The story here is this awesome bod. The aluminium radiator looks like it was milled out of a solid block of metal. The solid metal wheels are amazing. The car only has a single door – on the passenger side of the car. It is full of special one-off features with an unusual body style from a smaller coachbuilder. It is thought that less than 10 Schutte-bodied cars exist and we’ve now featured two of them. Check out more on RM’s site.

Update: Sold $71,500.


1923 Wills Sainte Claire B-68 Gray Goose Special

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Like Roosevelt, Wills Sainte Claire was another short-lived American automobile manufacturer of respectable quality. This car, which is all-original, is a 68-series car. The variations of the Model 68 were built from 1922 through 1926. 1927 was the only year it wasn’t built.

It was Wills Sainte Claire’s largest model, using a 4.4-liter V-8 making 67 horsepower. In 1924, the Model 68 was offered in a bunch of body styles with the most interesting being the Gray Goose Special seen here (which is essentially a four-door touring car). This one has known ownership history from new and has only been owned by two different families in that time. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $57,200.


1920 Rauch & Lang Electric Model C-45 Dual Drive Coach

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Rauch & Lang traces its history back to Jacob Rauch, a blacksmith in Cleveland who opened his shop in 1853. Charles Lang was a real estate man from nearby and moved the company toward wagon building. In 1905, they turned to electric cars and became one of America’s premier electric car builders in the early days of automobiles.

They built cars through 1928 and this 1920 Model C-45 is how most of them looked. The company moved from Cleveland to Massachusetts in 1920 (after having merged with Baker Electric in 1917) and this car was the final example produced in Cleveland. It uses a three horsepower electric motor. This car can be driven from the left hand seat either in the front or rear, which is pretty interesting. Try that in your Buick. Click here to see more about this car.

Update: Sold $66,000.

1920 Rauch & Lang

1920 Rauch & Lang Electric Model C-45 Dual Drive Coach

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Rauch & Lang traces its history back to Jacob Rauch, a blacksmith in Cleveland who opened his shop in 1853. Charles Lang was a real estate man from nearby and moved the company toward wagon building. In 1905, they turned to electric cars and became one of America’s premier electric car builders in the early days of automobiles.

They built cars through 1928 and this 1920 Model C-45 is how most of them looked. The company moved from Cleveland to Massachusetts in 1920 (after having merged with Baker Electric in 1917) and this car was the final example produced in Cleveland. It uses a three horsepower electric motor. This car can be driven from the left hand seat either in the front or rear, which is pretty interesting. Try that in your Buick. Click here to see more about this car.

Update: Sold $66,000.

Enfield Electric

1974 Enfield 8000

Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | June 10, 2015

Photo - Brightwells

Photo – Brightwells

We’ve featured a lot of microcars on this site – but not this one. Enfield is a name that goes back a long way in British automobiledom. Royal Enfield built fantastic motorcycles prior to WWII. But this brand is not related to that one at all.

This company, Enfield Automotive, was founded in the 1960s in the U.K. It moved to Greece in 1973, but the cars were still built on the Isle of Wight. Many of this cars’ parts were from or based on readily available cars of the time, such as the Mini and Hillman Imp. The body is aluminium and it is powered by an eight horsepower electric motor.

There are two seats and this one looks to need a little work (it’s probably not a driver). It had a top speed of between 48 mph and a range of around 40  miles. Only 120 of these were built between 1973 and 1977. It’s tiny – but if you want an electric car project, here you go. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $5,400.

Sperry Electric

1900 Cleveland Sperry System Electric Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 31, 2014

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Elmer A. Sperry invented some electric arc lamps and electric mining equipment before he moved to Cleveland in the 1890s. He was there to help establish an electric railway company, but started fooling around with automobiles and produced his first electric car in 1898. The Sperry Electric went on sale in 1899 under the name Cleveland Sperry System. In the car’s final year, 1901, they were just called “Sperry.”

They are powered by a 3.5 horsepower electric motor and could be had in one of eight body styles. This is a three-seat stanhope. Sperry sold their patents to the Cleveland Machine Screw Company in 1901 and they produced the car under the Cleveland marque from 1902 through 1904. Part of Sperry’s electric engineering company still exists today as part of Honeywell.

This car is one of two Sperrys known to exist. It has known history for the last 25 years and has been run in many rallies and shown at many shows around the U.K. It should sell for between $77,000-$83,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $88,151.

Three Rare Microcars

1953 Reyonnah A175 Roadster Prototype

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 7, 2014

1953 Reyonnah A175 Roadster Prototype

As rare as they are, we’ve actually been fortunate enough to feature a 1951 Reyonnah on our site before. What’s a little strange is that the other car we featured was listed as a 1951 whereas this car is listed as a 1953 – and this was the first example built.

I’m only featuring this “duplicate” car because 1. it’s the original prototype and 2. I’m doubling it up with another old microcar. Might as well toss this in with it. Anyway, this car uses a 175cc single-cylinder putting out 8.5 horsepower. What’s even cooler than the fact that the original prototype still exists, is that this car has been owned by Robert Hannoyer’s family since it was built by him back in 1953.

Hannoyer’s son Jean-Pierre is the one selling it. Only about 12 of these were built and a handful of them still survive. This is the first one. The Reyonnah we featured sold for $184,000. This one is expected to bring between $68,000-$110,000. You can read more here and find more from Artcurial here.

Update: Sold $168,903

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1941 Pierre Faure Type PFA Biplace Electrique

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 7, 2014

1941 Pierre Faure Type PFA Biplace Electrique

When the Germans took France, they quickly banned the sale of gasoline to those without special permission to drive. The innovative (including Peugeot) tried their hand at building very small electric cars as a way to build vehicles, stay in business, and keep France motoring.

This car was designed by architect Michel Dufet and produced by Pierre Faure. The engine was a small electric motor making 10 horsepower driving the two rear wheels. It was capable of 25 mph and could do 40 miles on a single charge. About 20 of these two-seaters were built, this being #16. It is in original condition and would be a perfect candidate for complete restoration having spent many years in a museum. It should sell for between $20,000-$34,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial.

Update: Sold $69,170.

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1967 Attica 200

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 6, 2014

1967 Attica 200

Well here’s a bonus! If you take a look at this page’s URL, you’ll notice this little car is a bit tacked on. I couldn’t not feature it – how often does an Attica 200 come up for sale? There wasn’t even one at that giant microcar auction last year!

Basically, this car is a Fuldamobil that was built under license in Greece. Bioplastic S.A. was the company’s official name and in 1962 they acquired the German Fuldamobil license. The 200 was in production through 1971 and uses a 198cc single-cylinder making, approximately, a handful of horsepower (accurate, I know).

This thing has been remarkably well-restored. Attica built other models as well over the years and I’m not sure how many of these they made, but only about 10 remain. It should sell for between $21,000-$34,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $18,732.

Pierre Faure Electric

1941 Pierre Faure Type PFA Biplace Electrique

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 7, 2014

1941 Pierre Faure Type PFA Biplace Electrique

When the Germans took France, they quickly banned the sale of gasoline to those without special permission to drive. The innovative (including Peugeot) tried their hand at building very small electric cars as a way to build vehicles, stay in business, and keep France motoring.

This car was designed by architect Michel Dufet and produced by Pierre Faure. The engine was a small electric motor making 10 horsepower driving the two rear wheels. It was capable of 25 mph and could do 40 miles on a single charge. About 20 of these two-seaters were built, this being #16. It is in original condition and would be a perfect candidate for complete restoration having spent many years in a museum. It should sell for between $20,000-$34,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial.

Update: Sold $69,170.

 

Victor Electric Highwheeler

1907 Victor Electric Runabout

Offered by Coys | London, U.K. | December 3, 2013

1907 Victor High Wheel Electric Runabout

There is some confusion as to the origin of this car, but one thing is certain: it is called Victor. It has electric power and it is also a highwheeler of American origin. There was a company in St. Louis which operated from 1907 to 1911 called the Victor Automobile Manufacturing Company and they specialized in highwheelers for the first two years of their existence.

Coys mentions that this is the only Victor ever produced (there is even a tacky homemade plaque on the side of the car proclaiming this “fact”). They mention that the car could’ve been a one-off built in Nebraska, but that there isn’t any proof.

I offer a third possibility: Victor of St. Louis built highwheelers in 1907 that used a two-stroke engine. Perhaps they experimented with an electric drivetrain on one? Who knows. At any rate, the electric system has been completely redone lately and this thing will do about 70 miles on a charge and tops out around 30 mph.

It’s in the U.K. now, but it is available for purchase. It should sell for between $61,000-$88,500. Click here for more info and here for more from Coys in London.

Update: Not sold.

Update II: Sold, Historics at Brooklands, June 2016, $54,145.

Tribelhorn Electric

1905 Tribelhorn Electric Brougham

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 9, 2013

1905 Tribelhorn Electric Brougham

Sometimes, with electric cars, it can be difficult to extract horsepower and performance figures. This is even more difficult when the car is almost 110 years old. It is an electric car, built by A. Tribelhorn & Cie AG, in Feldbach, Switzerland. And I have no idea what kind of power it makes. Probably not a lot.

The company was founded by Johann Albert Tribelhorn in 1899. The company built electric cars exclusively up until they were acquired by a rival in 1919. For another year or so after that they built a few electric commercial vehicles. This is a passenger vehicle with wood bodywork and tiller steering.

It was offered by RM at Hershey in the fall of 2011 fresh from the estate of John O’Quinn. It sold there for $35,000. Now it is being offered for sale again, less than two years later. It makes you wonder why – did the new owner run out of money? Hate the car? Did it not work? In any case, this is a good chance to grab up a rare Swiss electric vehicle. And you know what was paid for it a year and a half ago, so they can’t exactly be asking for the moon this time around. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.

Update: Sold $77,000.